Five of the biggest threats faced by start-ups and small businesses

By | 19th September 2016


Among the greatest achievements for entrepreneurs who have had the courage to start their own business is the ability to maintain and grow it. In South Africa, 86% of start-ups fail in year one and only 7% survive to celebrate their third birthday. While business owners face many challenges, there are a few that pose especially high risks. These challenges take vision and determination to overcome.

Darlene Menzies, CEO of SMEasy and award-winning innovation entrepreneur, looks at five of the biggest challenges facing a small business and gives some tips on how to combat them.

Cash flow: Cash flow is arguably the greatest hurdle when running a small business. Even if you’re a brilliant entrepreneur with a great product or service and a ready market, you have to stay focused on managing your company’s cash flow to avoid putting your business in serious danger. Common cash flow management mistakes include overestimating future sales, failure to bring in the money owed by customers, over spending and the biggest culprit, not budgeting. For more on how to help you with cash flow, see

Motivation: To succeed in business, it is vital to be motivated and to stay motivated. Running a business is like running a marathon: it takes passion and motivation to keep you moving forward each day regardless of the obstacles you face. Tough times can deplete your motivation. During these times it is important to get good sleep, remain positive and remind yourself of all the benefits of running your own business. A bad day doesn’t mean a bad business. Tough times pass. Keep focused on the goal, stay motivated and maintain the momentum. To see more on motivation, click here (insert Link when published).

Marketing: A good marketing strategy is essential for success, regardless of how small your marketing budget is. Many entrepreneurs are tempted not to implement a marketing strategy due to financial constraints. This is a mistake. It is important to plan how you are going to attract customers, no matter how basic the strategy is – at the end of the day no customers means no business. Marketing doesn’t have to break the bank. Be strategic and focus on the right marketing activities for your business. For more on advice on marketing on a tight budget see

Team: The greatest asset in your business is your team. Choosing the right partners, employees, advisors and mentors is crucial to small business success. One of the most common pitfalls small business owners fall into is neglecting their team in the start-up years. Take care of your team and they will take care of your business. For more on the importance of your team see

SARS: Failure to pay SARS is a sure route to liquidation. A frequent misconception among business owners is that SARS is out to get them – we think of SARS as the proverbial bogeyman. Many small businesses fall behind with their VAT or PAYE payments when times get tough and end up using the available money to pay salaries and keep the business going. Once behind, their natural tendency is to avoid contact with SARS. The most important piece of advice when it comes to SARS is to understand that they want to assist small businesses and they are willing to help you work out a viable plan. SARS don’t want to see your business fail because it is in their best interest to make sure your business stays afloat. The key when it comes to SARS is to maintain communication. For more on SARS see (insert link when published).

Running a small business may be challenging, but if keep yourself motivated, stay on top of your cash flow management, implement a sound marketing strategy and have the support of a good team, you are destined for great success.

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